Hunter-Reay's Indy 500 luck turns sour for second straight year


INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his hopes for a second win in the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil slip from his grasp once again.

A mechanical failure on Lap 137 took the 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion out of the race Sunday after leading 28 laps. It marks the second straight year that Hunter-Reay has been a strong contender but not been able to finish.

“It's frustrating to end your day like that, especially when you have a good car like that,” said the 36-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It's two years in a row that Andretti Autosport has given me a car to win this race, and it's two years in a row that circumstances outside our control have taken us out."

A collision on pit road with teammate Townsend Bell kept Hunter-Reay from contending for the 2016 Indy 500 win after he led a race-high 52 laps.

Hunter-Reay started 10th on Sunday in the No. 28 DHL Honda and took the lead for the first of seven times on Lap 79. He exchanged the point with teammates Alexander Rossi and Fernando Alonso over the next 50-plus laps. The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion was running third behind his teammates when a plume of smoke gushed from the rear of the car down the backstretch on Lap 137.

Hunter-Reay wound up scored in a disappointing 27th place.

“This team has worked so hard,” he said. “I had a fast car all month and, coming from 10th, just kind of took my time getting back up there up to the lead.

“This race is really hard to win, even when you have everything lined up. I had a great car all month; super-fast. I knew what I needed from the car today and I knew after the first stint that I had a good shot at it. It's unfortunate.”

Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion making his first Indy 500 start, suffered a similar mechanical fate 43 laps later, but Andretti Autosport still prevailed with Takuma Sato winning the 101st running. Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 champion, finished seventh after refueling issues for the second straight year plagued him late. Marco Andretti ran a solid but quiet race and placed eighth. Rookie Jack Harvey hit debris and crashed out in 31st place.

“I feel really bad for Ryan, I feel really bad for Fernando,” Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti said. “Fernando drove a really good race for his first time here. I feel really bad for Alex as well because he had a bad pit stop. He was a strong car as well.

“Like I said before, that's why we had six bullets in the gun, right? Luckily, one came through.”

Hunter-Reay dropped to 12th in the season standings, 93 points behind Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves after six of 17 races. He has only a few days to regroup as the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to the Motor City for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear this weekend.

The doubleheader races air live at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday on ABC and on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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